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<eyebeam><blast> Re: formatting

As I caught up with the Eyebeam postings, I was interested in
speculations about a post human culture where mind is distributed beyond
the body. (Hayles, Morse and others)  I was also interested in those
discussions of the ways in which invisible or ephemeral technologies
establish protocols for the actual arrangement of physical development
and political groupings.  Saskia Sassen is a colleague of mine at
Columbia and I have been following her work on this subject for some

When I read postings, I realize that part of my real interest is in the
behavior of each writer, the way each reassures the other or has the
courage to reveal something about themselves.  After all, we have no
punctuation for tongue-in-cheek or for laughter at the end of a
sentence.  I think it was Katherine Hayles who wrote about an enhanced
ability to engage entries which are "situated" in a life.  Isn't this
true. One knows it so well and yet always has to be reminded of it in
academic contexts which sometimes reward more formal, if pataphysical

My work (with students and in practice) as an architect and writer has
been, as I said, interested in mind distributed by technology as well as
the direct relationships between technology and the physical
arrangements of urbanism.  I have also been interested in technology
distributed by mind, the ways in which we reciprocally respond to our
new tools and use them as models for thinking and making physical
arrangements.  I have been interested in the ways in which organizations
of physical development and production mimic network organizations even
when they are not entirely reliant on the actual hardware of new
technologies.  I completed a book last year about various ways in which
development for landscapes, offices, suburbs, shopping malls etc are
"formatted" by network protocols embedded within business
organizations.  Many of these invisible protocols have enormous physical
and material consequences.

Example: The shifting scales of retail development, familiar to
everyone, perhaps dramatize these kinds of changes.  SKU number
tracking, mass-customization and new network models for global
shipping/freight hubs are partly responsible for increased scales of
production and larger warehouse, price-club, superstore buildings.  Most
of these congregate around the outer ring of the old shopping mall
feeding off the lulls in parking volume generated by the central
formation.  And now, almost over night, they are actually making that
enormous, distributed mall format obsolete.  New so called
"power-centers"  made up of only superstores actually turn the mall
format inside out by located parking in the center of a ring of stores. 
And a new global distribution superhub like Ross Perot's Alliance
Airport in Fort Worth, Texas is like the giant physicalization of a
design for computing hardwareQa big box with peripherals and room for
more memory cartridges. In the interest of brevity, I am not sorting
through all the networks engaged in this example. The real interest for
me is how powerful a new and ephmeral network format can be.  Franchises
and homebuilding formats are interesting in this way as well. 

I have been interested in treating the network organization as itself a
site.  The specifications for initializing or formatting a franchise
are, though ageographic, extremely explicit.  Adjusting the format is
powerful, since it is often amplified by repetition.  I now try to draw
"site plans" for cultural habits or production protocols in an attempt
to impact the real spatial changes which occur-to find points of entry
and partial adjustment. Though perhaps artful, I hesitate to treat this
work as a performance art.  I seem to want the work to remain disguised
behind the mask of a ham-faced business manQ to pretend to be ignorant
of any predictions of utopia or crisis.  I seem to want this work to
have the silly enthusiasm associated with inventions of different kinds
or the opportunism fed by the many accidents in the marketplace. 

I should say, too that while I think our new technological tools are so
good at modelling our preoccupations and reciprocally shaping those
preoccupations, the book I was writing tried to find a similar habit of
mind about network organizations in historical episodes prefigured our
contemporary situation with new technology.  Some of those episodes
invovlved other time-based models (e.g.geological, mechanical,
theatrical, military) to generate a network thinking or thinking about
active organizations .  I wanted to avoid the twentieth century tendency
to regard intelligence as successive rather than coexistent. 

I hope these comments are not too specifically located in the world of
architecture, but I thought they might add a different train of thought.

Keller Easterling

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